I was recently meeting with an entrepreneur that went through the Advice For Good program (he donated his time at the Atlanta Community Food Bank and blogged about it, then we set up a time to meet) and we went on a nice walk and talked about his young company.
His business is progressing well and we spent most of our time focused on his goals and the steps necessary to achieve those goals. While I won’t share the specifics of our talk, it did get me thinking about companies entering the “second phase” of their evolution and what they need to be thinking about. In this context, I define “second phase” as: growing beyond 1-2 employees and over $250,000 in revenue annually.
4 steps to move into the “second phase” of your business:
– Define your end goal. What do you want this business to ultimately be? Are you looking to be acquired one day? To go public? To create a lifestyle business? To hand the business off to another leader once its grown so you can start your next thing? By defining your end goal, you’ll be able to start visualizing the next steps required to get closer to achieving it.
– Being to delegate. When you first start a company you have to do everything. But as you grow, it can be difficult to start delegating as it requires trust in your team members with important responsibilities. Delegation, however, is the most overlooked leadership skill but if you can master it early you’ll be set up for success.
– Find a mentor. You’re probably not ready for an official advisory board – that should come when you’re growing past $750,000 to $1 million – but a mentor who can help you with advice on a monthly basis can help a great deal. Or you can meet with people via Advice For Good as a start.
– Create a growth plan. While its difficult to win any business when you’re starting out, usually a founder has relationships that can help get the ball rolling. But to scale past your initial network, you’ll need a thoughtful business development plan. My recommendation in most cases is for the CEO to lead sales/marketing in the early years.
What’d I miss?